And Still! And Last? And Despe? Ibushi retains Intercontinental gold

Kota Ibushi retains against Tetsuya Naito in Castle Attack main event


The main event of night two in Osaka Jo Hall for Castle Attack saw the IWGP Intercontinental Championship at stake for what could potentially be the last ever time as Kota Ibushi still seeks to unify both titles while Tetsuya Naito hoped to retire the white and gold. 

The tenth singles match in the long standing rivalry between Ibushi and Naito started in the most scientific form of any of their one on one encounters, each man attempting to out wrestle the other on the mat. Questions had been circling over the last week about the status of Tetsuya Naito’s knee after the challenger had missed dates, but while Naito showed that his joint was working fine, he was the first to attack Ibushi’s own knee, which resulted in a strategy being set for the rest of the match. 

A pop up into a basement dropkick was what did the damage to Ibushi, and Naito was relentless with an aggressive assault inside the ring and out. A figure four and repeated knee drops had the Intercontinental Champion reeling as he barely caught enough elevation to hit Naito with a dropkick and catch some air. A running mid kick would follow, as would a standing moonsault, but Naito was easily able to go back downstairs with a kick to the knee. 

Naito would continue an impressive gameplan, going upstairs as well as down with a neckbreaker and leg full Nelson. A swinging DDT kept up the sustained damage on the neck even in response to a quick German suplex from Ibushi, and the challenger had the champion firmly under his thumb with elbows to the neck and an Indian Deathlock to the knees. 

Naito attempted to go home with Esperanza out of the corner, and Gloria following for a nearfall at the 20 minute mark. A high risk move out of the corner was countered by the champion however, and Ibushi found some time with another punishing mid kick. Kicking Naito out to the apron, the champion went big with an apron German suplex, a Boma Ye and the sitout Last Ride for two. Ibushi tied up the wrists for Kamigoye, but was countered with Valentia as offense escalated. 

 As the two men threw all they had left at the 25 minute mark, Ibushi dug deep with a huge lariat, but Naito recovered with a running Destino, Ibushi barely escaping at two. Naito rang up the arm for the full Destino, but Ibushi worked free, landing a pump knee, a rear Kamigoye and two from the front to secure victory. 

Before Ibushi could address the crowd in victory, new IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion El Desperado came to the ring. Reminding Ibushi of the past the two men shared (Ibushi being Desperado’s opponent in his first 2014 challenge for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship in Osaka), Desperado also reminded Ibushi that Anniversary Events typically get headlined with the junior heavyweight champion facing the heavyweight champion. ‘But after the journey that I’ve had to get to this point,’ Desperado would add ‘so instead of any old singles match, why not let it be for those (IWGP) titles?’ 

Ibushi would respond that he’s happy taking any challenge from anyone anywhere any time, and it seems as if the main event is made for the Nippon Budokan on Thursday March 4; we will have more news for you as soon as it breaks.